Two knee replacements later, Kay Goss is enjoying life’s latest reward

kay goss
Kay Goss, walking with her grandson, Kirby, underwent two knee replacement surgeries in advance of Kirby’s arrival.

Kay Goss loves to snuggle with her grandson, Kirby, and read a good book with him. Of course, he’s just a toddler, so the books are short, often made of cardboard and usually filled with lift-up flaps. “It’s our favorite thing to do together,” this Alexandria resident says. “We read at least one book every day before getting dressed.” 

Kay is used to being part of the action. A former powerhouse player in Washington, DC, she was the first woman to hold the title of Associate Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under former President Bill Clinton. After her tenure with FEMA, Kay worked with a number of public and private entities, which included a lot of business travel and little downtime. “That’s when I started noticing a lot of pain in my knees and back,” Kay recalls.

In 2017, this emergency management official, public servant, author of 300 articles and five books, esteemed public speaker and educator learned that she reached another milestone: she was going to be a grandmother. This meant some adjustments had to be made.

“I was so excited — but I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to carry my grandchild. The pain in my knees was that bad,” Kay says.

That’s when she made an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Andy Engh, MD. “I wanted the pain gone before my grandchild’s birth,” Kay says.

Trouble in both knees

“Kay had a type of arthritis in both knees that we call crepitus of the knee, which means there’s a lack of cartilage,” explains Dr. Engh, of Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic and Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. “This causes a cracking or popping sound or sensation in the knee joint. In Kay’s case, the arthritis was severe enough to cause pain in her feet, back and hips, since everything is connected. By the time I saw Kay, the pain and stiffness was modifying her daily activity.” 

Dr. Engh recommended a double artificial knee replacement, or arthroplasty, which involves surgically resurfacing the ends of the bones that form the knee joint with metal and plastic parts. “Kay was apprehensive about having two surgeries at the same time,” he explains. “That’s an individual choice between patient and doctor, and in Kay’s situation, I agreed that we should space the surgeries out.”

So, in February 2017, Kay had her first knee replacement, and then in December she had the second one.

Patient living without pain

When recalling her recovery after the first surgery, Kay often comes back to the same word: amazing. “I walked with a walker in the hospital a few hours after surgery, and I was home the next day,” she says. “But I was very concerned — and scared — about all the stairs in our four-story townhouse. Here’s the most amazing part: I tried the stairs, one step at a time, and for the first time in 15 years I had no pain. All this was happening only 24 hours after surgery,” Kay adds.

Recovery continued to go well, which gave Kay confidence to have the second knee surgery. “I put off the first surgery because I dreaded being out of it for so long,” she says. “But when I saw and felt the first surgery’s results, I went right ahead into the second surgery.”

Today, Kay is back to rushing through airports for business trips, writing articles and spending time with Kirby. “Dr. Engh knew exactly what my body needed. And now, just a year later, I lift my 25-pound grandson, give him a hug and kiss, and off we go for a walk. I forget that I ever even had surgery. That’s how good I feel.”

A Reputation for Excellence

The Inova Joint Replacement Center at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital is the largest program of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region. The center, which is nationally accredited and certified by The Joint Commission, performs more than 2,000 hip, knee, shoulder and ankle replacements each year.

As a sign of the center’s outstanding care, Sameer Nagda, MD, was named team orthopedic surgeon for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. Dr. Nagda, who has worked with the team since 2016, was chosen to travel with the team to France this June.

Improve Your Joint Health
Complete a free joint risk assessment. To find out more about the Inova Joint Replacement Center, call 703.664.7493 or visit inova.org/IJRC.

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